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Watertown Wizards suffer setback vs. Cooperstown

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The Watertown Wizards continue to struggle to find consistency this season.

Two nights after a dominating victory at home, the Wizards were soundly defeated by the Cooperstown Hawkeyes, 9-3 on Friday in a Perfect Game Collegiate League game at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

On Wednesday, Watertown rapped out 11 hits in a 9-1 victory over Newark. Against Cooperstown, the Wizards surrendered five runs over the first four innings and despite putting plenty of runners on base, never recovered in suffering their fourth loss in six home games this season.

“I think it was just one of those days where the ball wasn’t bouncing our way,” Watertown manager Nathan Kafka said. “They’re a good team, they did a lot of good things, they’re very aggressive on the bases and hit the ball well. They didn’t necessarily hit the ball hard a lot, but they got it done.”

Watertown only managed to score a single run in the second, third and seventh innings and left 10 runners on base for the game.

“We had the bases loaded a couple times and it’s tough, we just didn’t string together enough hits,” said center fielder Brandon Cipolla, who singled three times and drove in a run in four at-bats for the Wizards. “We did so well last game, but we’ll bounce back (today) if we can string together some hits at the right time.”

Cooperstown (3-2) scored two runs in the first inning on a run-scoring infield single by Quinn Pippin and Tyler Mautner’s RBI groundout, and led 3-0 in the second as Jacob Hubert singled and scored when Anthony Simon reached on an error.

The Wizards (4-4) scored in the bottom of the inning as Cole Gleason doubled to right field and scored on Cipolla’s single to center field. They pulled within 3-2 as Riley Norton singled to left field and scored when Gleason reached on a fielder’s choice.

But Watertown hurt itself defensively as an error in the fifth inning led to two runs as Cooperstown built a decisive 5-2 lead. In all, Watertown committed four errors that led to five unearned runs.

Starter James Norwood pitched five innings, allowing only two runs, to earn the win for the Hawkeyes.

“It was a good win for our guys,” said Cooperstown manager Eric Coleman, who coached Kafka for two years with Oakland County (Mich.) of the Frontier League. “We’ve got to start establishing ourselves as a team.”

Watertown threatened in the seventh inning as Cipolla singled in a run and loaded the bases, but after reliever Andrew Grann entered the game, hit into a double play.

“It’s still early in the season, but we have to be more consistent with our at bats,” Cipolla added.

Bryan Chudy took the loss in six innings of work, yielding five runs, with three of them earned, struck out three batters and walked three.

“These guys have a good ball club,” Coleman said of Watertown. “They’re going to swing the bats. It’s tough going against Nate, he played for me in pro ball and it’s one of those teacher against student (meetings). But he’s going to do a good job here, he’s a good coach and I have a lot of respect for him.”

Hubert singled twice, scored three runs and stole two bases to spark for Cooperstown.

“It’s been up and down,” Kafka said of the season. “Once we kind of get into the season a little more and hit our stride, hopefully things will just take off. We need consistency from everyone, but we’ll get that — I’m not worried about that with these guys.”

nNOTES: Gleason, who doubled twice on Wednesday night, also hit two doubles on Friday. ... The Wizards travel to play Glens Falls at 7 tonight and return to host Amsterdam at 5 p.m. on Sunday in a Father’s Day game.

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